The difference between zero and thin clients

The difference between zero and thin clients

21 June 2023

Amulet Hotkey designs and manufactures thin and zero clients that are compact and feature rich. Unlike a workstation tower a client is small enough to be easily deployed anywhere due to their small size and power requirements. This helps to empower organizations to be agile, and removes the need for their workforce to be anchored to a particular location. Users can also have multiple units, one at home and one at the office, which removes risk of damage or theft from taking a laptop on a daily commute.

We engineer two different groups of clients, zero clients and thin clients. But what are the differences and use cases for each?

What is a zero client

The term zero client is associated with the technology created by one of our partners, HP Anyware – formally Teradici. The concept behind the hardware was to create a client which has no persistent memory, no storage and no operating system. It purely has a simple function, to connect to a remote workstation and display the pixels on the screens that are connected to the client, while providing USB inputs for a keyboard and mouse and any peripherals. This makes it the most stripped down option with limited functionality, but also a most secure way of connecting to a remote workstation.

Who would use a zero client

Our Zero client range is our most secure agile working solution. The zero client technology literally means zero information is stored on the device itself, making it ideal for use cases where security is paramount such as within government and defense.

A zero client can access a workstation from anywhere in the world, in an entirely secure way, as the only thing being sent between the workstation and the data center is display pixels, which are encrypted, meaning no data ever sits on the client itself. It’s reduced functionality also makes it the solutions with the simplest deployment and management.

Are there different types of zero client

Within the zero client range we have two key product sets, the DXZ4 and DXZC, both of which use the Teradici PCoIP protocol. Functionally they are very similar, but the DXZC can display two heads of video, and the DXZ4 series can display four heads of video and a higher performance to cope with changing pixels when displaying a video. The customer preference would depend on the number of displays that need to be connected to each other.

What is a thin client

A thin client is a mini PC dedicated to providing users with remote access, which connect to a server where most of the applications, sensitive data, and memory are stored. They are easier to manage than conventional workstations as changes can be made from the data-centre, rather than via each individual computer.

Whereas a zero client has no operating system of its own, thin clients run a restricted operating system and build on the zero client functionality and performance.

Who would use a thin client

Thin clients have increased performance, which is ideal for higher resolution and pixel requirements such as video display. The higher performance also provides a better quality experience for real time communications, such as through Teams or Zoom meetings.

Thin clients not only provide reliable performance but also more flexibility for users. They contain software which will connect to a remote workstation, meaning that users aren’t tied to one desk, and the workstation or data center itself isn’t required to be within the office building. Our latest thin clients can also be easily integrated into zero trust environments, making them an increasingly secure option.

There is also a lot of flexibility in terms of what software, operating system and protocols can be installed onto a thin client, meaning they can be tailored to the use cases of the individual customer. The high performance and adaptability of thin clients makes them idea for industries such as finance and banking or media, entertainment and gaming.

Are there different types of thin client

We offer a range of thin client products, and the best fit will come down to the customers’ requirements and specifications. We have our DX series thin clients, which offer a high level of flexibility and performance, and use passive cooling to increase reliability over fan cooled hardware. The DX1300 is stripped down in terms of performance and functionality, making it the most affordable option, whereas the DX1600 provides a higher performance and use cases, such as being able to support up to four displays. The DX3260 is currently our highest performance offering.

All of our thin clients can be used alongside our CoreStation suite of remote workstations to create a complete infrastructure solution.

To summarise, zero clients are primarily engineered for security and ease of use, as users can press connect go, but with reduced functionality. Whereas thin clients provide a higher performance and the benefits of extra features and Zero Trust integration. Request a call from a member of our sales team to discuss which solution could be the best for your users.

Our experienced engineers are also hard at work creating new client solutions which will be released later this year. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to hear the latest updates.

Nikki Brown headshot, Digital Marketing Executive for Amulet Hotkey By Nikki Brown, Digital Marketing Executive at Amulet Hotkey


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